CMEW Apprentice

Duration: 3:30 minutes
Accession No: TWCMS : 2009.382
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Derek's story is about his memories of being an apprentice at the Central Marine Engine Works of William Gray and Company Ltd, Hartlepool.

By Derek Hinds

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Video transcript

Apprenticeship Memories of the Central Marine Engine Works. The first department into which all the new apprentice fitters went into was the Light Machine Shop. Here there was a selection of Turret Lathes, they specialsed in making nuts, bolts and studs. A stud is a piece of round steel bar with a section of thread on one end, a blank section of the bar, then another longer length of screw thread on the other end.

After several months on these machines the apprentices are moved around the workshop. My next machine was the small Milling machine, which can be seen in the picture. This machine which looks very similar to a drilling machine can cut keyways in shafts, or can be used to shape metal and also create square ends on valve spindles so that hand-wheels can be fitted.

Slotting and Shaping machines were next. These machines have a machine tool fitted similar to lathes, but in this case the tool moves back and forth, where on the lathe it is the 'work' which moves. The shaping machine cuts the work horizontal, while the slotter operates verticle, it can cut keyways / slots in the insides of gearwheels. This machine I found to be very versatile in the jobs it could do. From cutting keyways to facing castings and blocks of metal that were fastened to its table. The table was able to be moved, backwards and forwards, from side to side, up and down and to revolve on its axis.

The next move was into the Boiler Shop, this is where the marine boilers for the ships were constructed. The apprentice fitters jobs were to fit the mountings onto the boiler shells where the valves and gauge glasses were to be positioned. Another task was to climb down inside the nearly completed boilers to fit anti corrosion plates onto the sides of the furnace chambers. In that task you didn't have to suffer from clostraphobia, as many of a time you could easily get jammed in between the tubes. The way out, was to be lowered a rope and the overhead crane to pull you out.

My final move in the Central Marine was to an office job, working in the Progress Office. Here the report cards came in from the different operations that had been carried out. Our job was to plot the progress of the parts through the works. You also got to talk to customers who wanted to know how their particular job, or piece of equipment, was doing, and when it would be finished.

This was my last task within the Gray's yard as the future of the whole shipbuilding industry in Hartlepool was in doubt with the possibility of it all being shut down, myself, I was transfered to Tyneside to complete my apprenticeship.

Were you an app fitter or turner, were was the coppersmiths app work ?Posted on 31/05/2012 at 15:12:41

Can I through your site ask if any ex Grays people have any tales to tell about my uncle who in 1956 sent me into the pub near the yard to ask who hung the monkey. He then stepped in to save me as most of the men were his gang. He was called Douglas Lillie and I was taken to have a look by my dad who wanted me to become a marine engineer like another uncle Jack Lillie. Any tales I am told will become part of the family archive. Michael John Lillie Web site at this address. http://www.berwickshire-lillies.co.uk/Posted on 05/06/2012 at 12:50:26

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